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Big Smith

Gig – 2003 (MayApple)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Big Smith

Big Smith is a Springfield, MO. outfit made up of five cousins, including two sets of brothers (Mark and Jody Bilyeu, and Mike Williamson and Rik Thomas). This healthy two-CD live set captures the band performing an enthusiastic collection of bluegrass music with a lot of musical brotherly love.

You just know they're doing it the right way when you have to read the credits carefully just to distinguish the traditional tracks from the Big Smith written ones, since many of these originals sound just like traditional cuts. "Mocking Bird," for example, which Jody Bilyeu wrote, would have fit right in with the rest of The Carter Family's repertoire. And if you've ever suffered from denominational blues, you'll surely get a kick out of "His Eye Is On The Baptist," a humorous rewrite of the gospel standard, "His Eye Is On The Sparrow." The first disc is mostly acoustic and traditional material, but on the second, Jody Bilyeu lets loose on a little piano-pounding action. This last disc even concludes with a red neck version of The Clash's "Should I Stay Or Should I Go."

This is a big helping of big fun from Big Smith. (Big Smith Band, E-Mail: bigsmithband.com, cousins@bigsmithband.com , 417-818-5141)